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Judge sends murder case to grand jury

BY CORIANNE EGAN cegan@paducahsun.com

Police visited the home of William Ashley and Glenna Wilbourn only hours before Ashley was found dead two weeks ago. That fact, among other revelations, came to light during Wilbourn's preliminary hearing Thursday in McCracken District Court.

Wilbourn sat expressionless through the hearing, which came 14 days after police arrested her on a charge of murder. McCracken County sheriff's detectives believe Wilbourn struck Ashley, her live-in boyfriend, on the head several times with a baseball bat during an argument on March 27.

Sgt. Detective Darrin Frommeyer told of an incident hours before Ashley was found bleeding profusely from his head in front of the couple's Poole Road home. A house guest, Mary Dunn of Paducah, called police after returning to the home and finding that Wilbourn had a large bruise on her face.

During the call, Frommeyer said, dispatchers could hear Dunn, Wilbourn and Ashley arguing. 

When deputies arrived, Wilbourn disputed Dunn's account, telling deputies that she and Ashley were getting along fine and were going to bed. 

Four hours later, just after 2 a.m., Dunn called police again from a neighbor's home to report that Wilbourn had beaten Ashley with a baseball bat. Deputies found Ashley bleeding face down in front of the house. They found Wilbourn at the kitchen table. She told deputies that everything was fine, and that Ashley had just passed out drunk.

An autopsy later showed that Wilbourn had died of four blows to the head.

Frommeyer told the court that Wilbourn later admitted to hitting Ashley. She also was sent to a local hospital with bruised ribs. A day later, the bruise over her left eye and forehead turned bright blue and puffed up.

Frommeyer's statement took about 20 minutes, at which point defense attorney Angela Troutman told Judge Tony Kitchen she believed the murder charge against her client was unwarranted.

"Looking at Ms. Wilbourn, and seeing her injuries, it looks like she was drastically overcharged," Troutman said. "There is no proof of intention, that she planned to do this. And she was obviously incurring an extreme emotional disturbance. This wasn't in cold blood."

Troutman said the situation falls under the state's first-degree manslaughter statute.

Kitchen declined to get into that argument and instead found probable cause to send the case to a grand jury.

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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